Nearly 30 years ago, Nike, led by the vision of Tinker Hatfield, made visible Air a featured component in footwear and the world hasn’t been the same since. Over the years, the franchise of kicks has grown tremendously deep in its number with offerings, which creates something for everyone from all walks of life in terms of favorites.
Not everyone can be “Masters of Air” or own hundreds of pairs of shoes, but that doesn’t lessen our appreciation. As Air Max Day approaches on Saturday, March 26, we reached out to a few friends who share in our love and fascination for kicks asking them to share what they consider to be their favorite silhouettes. As you’ll see, most sneaker fiends trace their love affair back to many of the earlier models from the archives.
Regular Ol Ty (@regularolty)
OG Neon 95s, OG Persian BWs, and OG Silver 97s are all tops for me. But, the neon color, the fade, the Air unit of the 95s changed the game. Somehow my boy’s older sister’s boyfriend ended up leaving his 95s at their crib. Size 8.5, my size. I ended up with them and I ROCKED those shoes like I bought them. We ended up getting into a fight with some guys and I lost one shoe SMH.
Hustle Simmons (@HustleSimmons)
My favorite air max is the Air Max 180. The ultramarine color way is my favorite but the shoe became my favorite Air Max after seeing Michael Jordan wear it in his ’92 Dream Team photoshoot. Back then anything Michael Jordan wore I wanted to wear but after a pair they quickly became my favorite running shoe Nike made. Every time I see a pair i think about the excitement I had as a child when i seen MJ rocking them.
Premium Pete (@PremiumPete)
I have always been a fan of the Air Max 95 especially the Neon colorway. That shoe is internationally and culturally a worldwide iconic piece of history.
I’ve been honored to become friends with some members at Nike who were involved in the Doernbecher program early on. If you’re not familiar with this charity, Nike and he Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland give kids who battle all types of illnesses a chance to design a sneaker where all the proceeds go to the foundation. It’s an inspirational way to express their emotions, struggles, and show the world their personal touch. Designed by Mike Armstrong in 2007, this Air Max 95 is so dope with superb detailing. The patriotic theme was inspired by his brother who was in Iraq , USA-themed leather wraps, inspirational words lasered on the shoe. A winged heart on the tongue with 3M topping off the design. A GREAT sneaker with a GREATER cause.
Many people buy these shoes and never ever wonder what happened to the kid who designed them. You see, I’ve been involved in the sneaker culture for so many years so when this dropped in 2007 seeing something different, something meaningful was very powerful to me. This kid was 15 he was recovering from a surgery to replace a valve in his heart. Now in 2016, he’s 23 with an automotive degree and living his life! I love sneakers but it’s always BIGGER THAN SNEAKERS and at least once a year Nike and Doernbecher remind us of that.
Via Sole Collector
For those of us who have had a love affair with the Swoosh for some years, Nike Air Max Day is a big deal. It’s a day that finds us paying homage to a silhouette that most of us have a soft spot for. It’s also a day that – for me, at least – is a bit of a reminder that the desire for some sneakers just sticks with you.
The 1998 release of the Nike Air Max Plus ‘Tiger’ marked my first departure from my beloved Cortez. I was a kid who fell in love with the bright orange and black stripes of the TN. Unfortunately, my baby feet couldn’t fit in the larger sizes and I left my local mall with a major case of the sads.
Even 15 years later, The Air Max Plus OG ‘Tiger’ one of the only shoes that I still drool over. It’s a statement shoe designed to catch eyes and glow up in all of its sunset glory. And, for me, it continues to be the only dang shoe I can’t find in a GS size. THE SADS.
Thelonious Martin (@KingThelonious)
Via Flight Club
My favorite Air Max model in honor of Air Max day happens to be a three-way tie. The ‘Olympic’ Air More Uptempo, let alone the nostalgia of AIR being on the side of the shoe, the Olympic colorway set it off in a completely different way. I’m still on the hunt for these, size 11.5 if anyone got’em. The OG Grey/Red Air Max 1, I mean it’s classic for a reason, and a diverse shoe between summer and fall. Lastly, I can’t go without saying the Air Max 90 in the Infrared colorway. It’s a classic shoe needed in everyone’s rotation. Seriously!
Martin Rickman (@MartinRickman)
Gotta go with the Air Griffey Max I here. I wasn’t a sneaker kid growing up, and only recently have really tried to jump into the fray, but I was a huge, huge Ken Griffey Jr. fan. I mean, we all were, right?
The second I saw that pair of Air Griffey Max I, though (and I probably couldn’t have named the shoe at the time), I was hooked. I had serious covet syndrome, and I never ended up owning a pair, but was always in awe and jealous of the kids who did. One of these days after I’ve had a tough month I’ll reward myself, find a pair, and rock them while I play Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest on my N64. Sure they’re not the best looking Air Max, or the most practical, or even the ones I like the most now (that’d be the Air Max III), but they’re the ones I have the most nostalgia factor for, and that has to count for something.
Anna Bediones (@atothebed)
My favorite Air Max is the 90 – no specific colorway but if I had to choose I would stand by the OG Infrared. I actually didn’t realize how much I loved the 90 over the others or what it really meant to me until a recent sneaker discussion I had with some friends.
On a personal level, the Air Max 90 was the first Air Max I ever bought. Although I did wear various Air Maxes growing up, my parents made these decisions for me. It’s one thing to wear them growing up and it’s another to come to that decision yourself.
With regards to its cultural impact, the Air Max 90 created a huge shift in sneaker culture. As the third Air Max design, it was designed to look faster than its predecessors, the Air Max 1 and the Air Max Light. It also introduced the color that we now know as ‘Infrared,’ along with new texture applications which then opened up the doors to so much color play and creativity for future releases and collaborations.
The Air Max 90 is a staple, a blank canvas. It’s a sneaker that almost anybody can appreciate, whether they have a sneaker background or not. The silhouette is still to this day, or even more so, is wearable and marketable. No matter how many times it releases, people will buy it. People will wear it. It’s the most popular Air Max.
And although I am more likely to be spotted in an all-white 90, the Infrared will have my heart because of its significance to not only the Air Max history, but to sneaker culture as a whole.
Retro Boogie (@retroboogie)
Via Flight Club
Since the Safaris just re-released, the only kicks left on my Air Max 1 list are the Hufquakes. back when Huf actually had some flagships, their best collaboration came in the form of AM1s. The kicks have the right amount of details with the murdered out earthquake (not elephant) print, hint of green bean, and that sexy, sexy, gum sole. Take any of those away, and the Hufquakes aren’t nearly as appealing. It was a real tossup between these and the Atmos joints, but these weren’t even on the damn vote list for Air Max Day so it’s Nike and Huf’s brainchild all the way for me.
Larry Luk (@LarryLuk)
I’m a purist, so I keep going back to the OG Air Max 1 in red. It is timeless, and consistently looks good with every iteration: moire, maxim or EM and beyond. I also love it that one of my favorite Atlanta Hawks, Thabo Sefolosha, plays in Air Max 1’s. It’s crazy to think of playing in such an old model, but if it’s good enough for Thabo, it’s good enough for this guy. Here’s some unreleased views of the Air Max 1 that I illustrated for Complex’s Air Max Day last year.
Jacques Slade (@Kustoo)
For me, the shoe is the Air Max 95 in the original colorway. While the Air Max line has a ton of different models that stand out and a lot of cool collabs, nothing quite measures up to the Air Max 95. I will admit that part of it is nostalgia, but part of it is that the shoe just looks so crazy. Once I actually learned about the inspiration for the design it made me love it even more.
Many people look to the human ribs and vertebrae for the design of the upper, but Sergio Lozano, the designer of the Air Max 95, has said that he actually sketched the shoe based on the process of rain eroding the earth. When looked at with that design note in mind, you see the correlation and the shoe really makes sense. As for the grey colorway, it is the first colorway of the shoe that I saw and will always be my favorite.
Chase N. Cashe (@ChaseNCashe)
It’s the human money machine himself Chase N. Cashe checking in.
My favorite Air Max is the Air Max Plus also known as the Tn Air. I’ll never forget the late 90s because of this shoe. It’s the shoe that spawned my sneaker craze because it broke my habit of buying basketball shoes primarily.
The design is super futuristic compared to simplicity of the Air Max 1 but still possesses the ability to have a wide range of colorways that makes the shoe stand out.
The orange and black, also known as the ‘Tiger Stripes,’ were the hottest pair and then the ice blue ones. I love how the Air bubble color is usually offset from the rest of the shoe featuring bright, tropical-like colors. The shoe also came in a wide range of materials. I remember as a kid always wanting to take pics so the 3M could shine lol.
I wear this shoe a lot and get many compliments every time. My personal favorite Air Max.
Alvin “aqua” Blanco (@Aqua174)
The Air Max 1 got people open with that visible Air bubble and the Air Max 90 was a neck snapper, but the Air Max 95 was design perfection. Nothing looked like that shoe beforehand and the Neon and grey was audaciously fresh. People forget that the sneaker was actually hated on A LOT due to the price point ($125+?!) and colors – good luck getting that to match, but true sneaker aficionados loved it. I couldn’t swing them first time out but made sure to cop when the next re-release before it became all trendy, and ON SALE.
Daniela Candela (@Daniela_Candela)
Being a woman really into fashion and sneakers, it’s hard to not feel jealous of the many styles and colorways widely accessible to men. But thankfully, there is the Nike Air Max Thea.
What I love about this model is that it’s simple and doesn’t have too many frills but at the same time, it looks so sleek and stylish. They aren’t bulky, which make them perfect for women to pair with their favorite jeans, dresses, and so on. They look so great on feet too. The best colors are the minimal and simple colors like black, light cement gray, white, olive green and tan. It’s a more refined version of the Air Max 90 mixed with the Air Max 1, which are two iconic models I love as well. For once, we have something that the boys can’t have.
Brandon Elder (@MrBrando3)
Almost 20 years later and the AM ’97 in the silver/red colorway is still the strongest Air Max, period. I remember seeing my favorite college hoops player of all-time, Miles Simon, rock them in the ’97 SI college hoops preview. Those shoes plus some Tommy carpenter shorts ended up being the go to outfit for like a month straight, even though it was getting kind of brick in Northern Illinois where I grew up. I ended up copping another pair in like 2009 when they re-released overseas, paying like $75 over sticker price because I had to have them months early before the U.S. got its official release.
Tommie Battle (@BoneyStarks)
Is it possible for my favorite Air Max to be one that I don’t actually own? I mean, I thought that my favorite Air Max was the Air Max 90, but I was wrong. I was so wrong. The Neon Air Max 95 is the one. I’ve had so many opportunities to cop this shoe and I have yet to do so, and I’m ashamed of it. It’s lines, it’s shape, the gradient in the grey mixed with the neon, perfectly designed.
I’ve had 95’s before, particularly the Slate and Safety Orange — but there’s got to be some cosmic reason as to why I haven’t come up on a pair in the 21 years they’ve been around. Maybe it’s one of those “never meet your heroes” type things, where if I buy a pair then my feet get run over by a car or something. Who knows?
Nick Engvall (@NickEngvall)
I know Air Max Day is traditionally – if you can call two years a tradition – about runners but I think Air Max Day stands for something much bigger. Air Max became the reason you wanted anything with a visible bubble in the heel back in the day and because of that I think we’ll see Nike bring more categories into the Air Max Day fold soon. My favorite Air Max changes pretty often but the classics–Varsity Red 1s, Infrared 90s and Neon 95s–are always up there. The most important one to me, though, is the 2009 Sole Collector x Nike Air Max Trainer 1 “Sole Knows” because it embodies the Air Trainer line that to me always out-shined the runners. It was an honor to be a part of the Sole Collector team back then and these will always remind me of those few years.
Ian Hoffler (@KicksDeals)
My favorite Air Max model is the Air Max 90 and if I had to pick a specific favorite, I would go with the ‘Infrared’ Air Max 90 Hyperfuse release from 2012. The build is lightweight, airy, eye-catching, and these kicks are really perfect for the warm weather in both the spring and summer. I dig some of the little details on this release as well, notably the font lettering featured on the tongue. If you remember, these were a pretty tough get so I feel fortunate I was able to secure them. I wanted to make sure I had another pair on deck for when I wear the first one out, so I copped a back-up pair a little over a year ago. But overall, when it comes to Air Max trainers, the 90 is my favorite model.
Ray P (@RayP_Photos)
The Air Max 90 is my dream shoe to collaborate on. It’s timeless. It’s designed by Tinker Hatfield. It’s perfect.
Abdul Quddus (@quddus_abdul)
My favorite Air Max shoe of all time is the Infrared Air Max 90. It was the first pair of Nike’s I bought when I moved to the United States from Sierra Leone in September 1990. I let the hangtag dangle of the side of the shoe and everything. When I had my eldest daughter in February 2012, I got her almost a size run of Air Max 90s because that shoe meant that much to me.
That being said, my favorite silhouette out of the Air Max family is the Nike Air Max 1, no particular colorway but I try to stay away from leather toe boxes. Thanks Tinker!!!!